H and I have been wanting to watch The Book of Mormon for a while. Let’s start with a little context. H grew up in and around the church. Mormonism to her is not just a religion but friends, family and in some ways part of her culture. It is very similar to what Catholicism is to me. Neither of us are currently part of any particular church but we are both very respectful of what others believe. That said, we both have a crude sense of humor when we talk about religion to each other. We are both very frank people with each other about what we find hilarious but we don’t ever try to offend others with our views or ridiculing their views.
I have been in New York in recent years and I was tempted to go see the play while there, but opted to wait until we could see it together. We actually had plans to see it in Chicago but it did not pan out. We were fortunate enough to have a friend that had fantastic seats but was not going to attend so we bought the tickets from him. All that said we did have a close Mormon friend tell us not to go. It did cause some pause for me.
Before being married to a non practicing Mormon my knowledge of the religion was being visited at one point by missionaries down in Colombia. My Mom had a strict rule about other religions just not entering our household. I did have a grandfather that was agnostic most of his life but ended his days following Hinduism. I can be open minded and I did the whole American protestant churches tour. Mormons are a lot different than other protestants I have encountered. They are by far some of the most warm and welcoming people I have ever encountered.
SouthPark creators had previously taken on Mormonism with one of their episodes. Surprisingly that show only made me more interested about the religions and I have since watched it more than once and think it is really positive. It highlights the values that I really love about that religion, the emphasis on family. Mormonism is not for me because I really love coffee and my brain breaks the illusion of religion when it comes to food. Same reason I could not be a Muslim, I can stop eating bacon because it will give me a hear-attack but not because a book tells me so. I also stopped practicing Catholicism seriously when I realized that I forget lent and eat meat on Fridays… I did it for a couple of years without even noticing. I don’t like feeling guilty because of something I consume without thinking.
Before going to watch the show I looked for content about it and found a song that really made me a little uneasy. One of the best songs really highlights some of the reasons that Mormonism would quickly lose me as a member. The chorus “A Mormon just believes” is pretty tough for me. I have no problem with satire and Catholic altar boy jokes, however this song could potentially ridicule some of the doctrine.
The book of Mormon would not affect a devout Mormon at all. However, if you are a Mormon that has doubts or thinks there are things that don’t make sense, this play will probably highlight most of them in a way that might make you think it is pretty ridiculous for you to believe on them. Without giving away the whole play, I am certain that the creators of SouthPark were not trying to get members away from the church but simply make everyone laugh.